Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson, Graham Storey, and Angus Easson (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 7: 1853–1855

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To MISS BURDETT COUTTS, 30 MARCH 1855*

MS Morgan Library. Address: Miss Burdett Coutts | Stratton Street | Piccadilly.

  • office of household words,
  • Friday Thirtieth March 1855

My Dear Miss Coutts.

I have enquired about the writer of this letter,4 and Mr. Wills has seen him. I did not take to the letter, but I find nothing whatever against the man. I have asked concerning him among people who have employed him, and they give him an excellent character. He himself is intelligent, modest, and industrious. The work he has pg 580been accustomed to, is of a grubbing and toilsome kind—and on the inferior class of newspaper1—But he seems to have done it quite honestly and steadily.

It appears that he took a large house (relatively to his circumstances) with a view to his daughter's2 keeping a school, and that scholars never came, and that his goods were seized and sold. This catastrophe having occurred since the date of his letter to you, he is now quit of that speculation by having nothing left. As that end would probably have come to it in any case, it is all the better over.

There is no doubt that he is poor and sufficiently meritorious. If you think it well to give him any small sum, I will, of course, gladly take charge of it.3

  • Ever Most Faithfully Yours
  •                                      CD.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
4 Clearly Charles Ball (1790–1866), who wrote to CD, 27 Feb, appealing for help: describing himself as connected with the London Press as correspondent and editor for nearly 20 years and having done "as much by my exertions to improve the condition … of the poor as any man in the three Kingdoms", he was now, aged 64, with a wife and two daughters, surrounded by overwhelming difficulties: unless he raised £60 before the coming Saturday (3 Mar), his belongings would be in the hands of the Brokers (MS Morgan Library).
Editor’s Note
1 Ball claimed to have founded Lloyd's Magazine and edited it for a year, and to have edited the Weekly Times for seven years; both were popular and radical: in his application to the Royal Literary Fund, 1864, Ball listed six newspapers he had edited (MS Royal Literary Fund).
Editor’s Note
2 Thus in MS; Ball mentioned two daughters.
Editor’s Note
3 A second letter, from Ball to Miss Coutts, 28 Feb, shows he wrote first to CD believing him to be Miss Coutts's secretary; discovering at Stratton Street that this was not so, he wrote to her directly (MS Morgan Library).
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